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Description of Eczema

written by: nanjowe • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 1/25/2010

Understanding what eczema looks like and understanding its causes can help an individual quickly manage the condition.

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    What is Eczema?

    Eczema is a general term that is used to describe a set of skin conditions that affect the outer layer of the skin. These conditions generally show up as noticeably red itchy and swollen skin. Another general term used to define these conditions is dermatitis.

    Eczema-arms by Jambula 

    There are many different causes of eczema; it could be caused as a result of a disease, an allergic reaction, or the result of a reaction to an irritating substance. In some cases the rash may look unsightly, but it important to note that an eczema rash is not contagious. Another interesting fact to note is that eczema may have a genetic disposition; it may run in a family.

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    What does Eczema Look Like?

    The affected area of skin starts by showing signs of irritation. It may start of as an itch that turns the skin into a red and bumpy rash or the skin may develop a rash spontaneously. This rash can also be scaly, crusty, or even blistered. Sometimes the rash develops immediately after contact with an allergen or the rash may take a few days to develop. Dermatitis develops on almost any part of the body but is usually found on the face, behind the knees, inside the elbows, and also on the hands and feet.

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    Recognizing the Different Types of Eczema

    The term eczema is generally used to define a commonly occurring dermatitis called atopic dermatitis. This type of eczema is caused by an allergic reaction to irritants. Atopic dermatitis results in dry and itchy skin patches.

    Other types of eczema include:

    Allergic Contact Eczema: This type is caused by the skin coming in contact with a substance that the body recognizes as foreign. The body then elicits an immune reaction. Contact with poison ivy produces this type of eczema.

    Contact Eczema: The skin turns red accompanied by itching and burning in the specific spot where the contact occurred. This is a common reaction to certain chemicals.

    Dyshidrotic Eczema: This type of rash is found on the palms of hands and soles of the feet. The skin develops clear blisters that that itch and burn.

    Dyshidrotic Dermatitis On Hands Late Stage 

    Neurodermatits: This allergic reaction is localized to the contact spot. The exposure causes an itch. The common cause is an insect bite. The eczema is the result of the scratch-itch cycle that results in scaly patches.

    Nummular Eczema: This condition is recognized by crusted and scaly coin shaped itchy spots.

    Seborrheic Eczema: The affected area has a yellow hue, is scaly and oily and commonly found on the face, inside the ear and scalp.

    Stasis Dermatitis: The condition is usually brought about by a blood flow issue and it occurs on the legs of middle aged and elderly patients. The skin starts by developing a reddish brown discoloration which develops further into patches that ooze.

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    Treatment

    Treating eczema depends on the cause and symptoms associated with the rash. Sometimes the symptoms can be lessened with the use of moisturizers and lotions. The use of cortisone creams can help with the swelling. Antihistamine containing creams can help with the itching. However, It is best to have the condition diagnosed and have a physician recommend the best treatment strategy. Some forms of eczema when left untreated can manifest and develop complications.

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    References

    1. Eczema: MedlinePlus
    2. eMedicine Dermatology: Dyshidrotic Eczema

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